Editors Note: Todays article is written by our good friend, Megan Smith. Enjoy!
Tragedy is the most common element shared in the chronicles of heroes. A tragic event is most often what puts them on their path to deal justice and protect the citizens of their various cities, planets or galaxies. It can completely reshape who they are, or in the case of Bruce Wayne, be their total definition.
Everyone knows the origin story that birthed the Batman legacy. (If you haven’t I have to ask where the hell you’ve been.) The Wayne family leaves a theatre one night, hand-in-hand and happy. They’re walking down a gloomy alley when they are accosted by a robber, who winds up murdering little Bruce’s parents in front of his eyes. His world comes unhinged, and instead of acting as any normal person would, he grows up to dawn a costume in an obsessive pursuit of justice for those who think the law is optional.
Now of course, we’re talking about a fictional superhero that everyone knows and loves. But for the sake of this article, and my main point, let’s pretend that Bruce is a real person who went through real anguish. If he had gone through traditional therapeutic methods of dealing with his issues instead of putting on tights, we would obviously see a different Wayne. Just how different, is the question I have been mulling over the past couple days, though a lot of “ifs” and assumptions come along with the answer.
The psychological benefits would indisputably be in Wayne’s favor. He most definitely suffers from severe symptoms of post-traumatic stress which cause him to have multiple flashbacks, nightmares, and strong guilt about the fate of his parents. Psychotherapy with the accompaniment of certain medications has been proven to treat and drastically reduce the symptoms of PTSD. If he supplemented that with “as needed” anger management and underwent the therapy as a child and it was effective, we could assume that he would be leading a more relaxed life. Even if Bruce maintained his hunger for justice through the years, he probably wouldn’t turn into a violent, costume-wearing rogue. Without all of the flashbacks, nightmares, and loneliness permeating Wayne’s World (I’m not even sorry) we could envision a relatively vigilante-free Gotham.
So we get it, mental stability equals no Caped Crusader. It’s pretty straightforward. But what about, you know, Bruce Wayne? Moving past Batman vs. no Batman and looking at his personal day to day life, most of what I’ve read assumes a man like Bruce would turn into a worse version of the privileged playboy/socialite that is portrayed as his alter-ego to Batman. On this assumption I must respectfully disagree. Bruce’s public appearance in the comics is a façade altogether so I would throw that out and start from scratch when building his newly formed psychological character. While there is a possibility that he would grow up to be a rowdy scoundrel of a man (I mean his parents were still murdered and all), I believe a more emotionally balanced version of him would surface to lead to an adequately stable life.
Wayne’s desire to crack down on criminals is an incredibly strong attribute to his character. A positive idea like would most likely have been encouraged as he walked through sessions with counselors or therapists in his life. He could conceivably grow to become a detective with his genius IQ, join the police force, or start his own organization to somehow aid in catching offenders like John Walsh did with America’s Most Wanted. A lifetime of striving for normalcy and balance makes someone think about consequences rather than disregard them. Regardless of what he would finally choose to do with his life, I doubt it would be along the lines of partying all night long and making a debacle of himself on television.
So there you have it. A mentally and emotionally stable Bruce Wayne is… well, a boring Bruce Wayne. Sure, Gotham probably would’ve been destroyed dozens of times over by the villains that would have emerged with or without a Batman, but can you really put that above one man’s psychological health and happiness? The citizens of Gotham (and nerds everywhere) would say so, and I would join their chorus.